A new class is available for May term 2016 called Study/Sports in Nicaragua.

The class will be available to members of the Goshen College baseball team. The idea for the course came from Doug Schirch, chair of the chemistry department.

“I’ve known for a long time that it’s hard for students in baseball and softball to do SST or even other May term off-campus courses because their season ends partway into May term,” said Schirch.

Schirch, who is on the International Education Committee, said that they received a request for summer SST courses to start a week later so baseball and softball participants could attend them. The committee decided that having SST units leave a week later would be too hard on students and professors who would have little down time before the start of the fall semester if the units got back a week later than usual.

“I had been thinking about how to offer a May term class in Nicaragua, so I realized we could have a May term off-campus course in Nicaragua that could leave later and then also come back later. It could be a mini-SST where they still have things like service, home stays, and classes. I had heard of other places where sports teams do things like this for a whole month and that it was a really positive experience for the teams,” stated Schirch.

Schirch then took the idea to Josh Gleason, athletic director, and Josh Keister, Rec Center director, who were in charge of the athletic department at the time. They took an interest in the idea as did the coaches who thought it was something their players would be interested in doing.

The course will include many elements that students who go on traditional SST experience. Because of that, the course will count for four credit points towards the students’ SST alternate requirements.

According to Gleason, the hope is that the group going on the May term trip will have enough players to be able to play games in Nicaragua against teams local to the area.

The 2016 class is test run and will determine if this type of class can be offered every year and possibly for additional sports.

“Our hope is it can be transitioned into a program that can accommodate other student athletes that can’t get intercultural experiences because they are in sports,” stated Gleason.

Schirch commented that right now “It’s a shame that because of calendars and other reasons some students have less of a chance than others to experience global citizenship in a way that is difficult to get sitting in a classroom.”

“The key for us is to get athletes both the intercultural experiences we highly value as well as the valuable lessons they learn from being part of team,” remarked Gleason.